This is our favorite minestrone soup recipe, Giada De Laurentis's, Winter Minestrone. To start, we chop up an onion, 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, 2 cloves of garlic, and a few ounces (100 grams or so) of pancetta. We also tear the leaves from about a pound of Swiss chard into small/medium-sized pieces (we also sometimes make this soup with Kale instead of Swiss chard), cube one pealed russet potato, open a can diced tomatoes, drain and rinse two cans of cannellini beans, and open one of the containers of stock. For seasoning, we set aside several sprigs of rosemary and Parmesan cheese rinds.
The cooking starts by browning a handful of diced pancetta in olive oil. We've learned to prepare the pancetta first to get it brown and crispy, just the way we like it.
Brown and crispy pancetta
Setting aside the browned pancetta, saute the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic in olive oil for about 10 minutes, until the onion is translucent.
Saute the chopped vegetables
Next, in goes the reserved pancetts, the Swiss chard, and the cubed potato and it all cooks for a few more minutes.
Add pancetta, cubed potatoes, Swiss chard
Add the diced tomatoes and rosemary sprigs and simmer about 10 more minutes, until the Swiss chard is wilted.
Simmer until the Swiss chard is wilted
Mash one-quarter of the cannellini beans with a fork and add the mashed beans, along with the stock and several Parrmesan cheese rinds. Now we're starting to look like soup!
Add mashed beans, stock, Parmesan cheese rinds
Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the potato cubes are tender, then add the remaining (whole) beans and let the final mixture simmer 2-3 minutes as the soup thickens and the beans warm up.
Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot sauce (we use sriacha hot sauce) and serve with ground pepper. And, of course, serve with French bread and a glass of a favorite wine (in this case, MacMurray Pinot Noir).
A perfect, hearty, warming dish for a cold, rainy day.